Category Archives: Technology

Face the Fax

One unintended consequence of the 2009 HITECH Act: American medicine’s overreliance on fax machines, which are obsolete in most other industries.  “Obama officials believed competing health systems would volunteer to share patient data. They now admit that was naive.”

Electronic medical record vendors also have incentive to not interface with other vendors’ products.

So where do we go from here?  If financial incentives were needed to make hospitals digital in the first place, it stands to reason that a government push will also be needed to get those digital systems talking.

Brother IntelliFAX High-Speed Laser Fax Machine (2840)

Governed by GAFA

Silicon Valley may think it represents the anti-government, but when does it BECOME the government?  They already surveil, and set rules and norms.  So, are you satisfied with the current/future aegis of Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon?

Facebook represents a dangerous deviation in media history. Once upon a time, elites proudly viewed themselves as gatekeepers. They could be sycophantic to power and snobbish, but they also felt duty-bound to elevate the standards of society and readers. Executives of Silicon Valley regard gatekeeping as the stodgy enemy of innovation — they see themselves as more neutral, scientific and responsive to the market than the elites they replaced — a perspective that obscures their own power and responsibilities.

Franklin Foer tells us what’s up…

You > Technology

Yuval Harari, the author of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, spoke to The Atlantic about humans and what makes them tick.

“[White Americans without a college degree] are a declining class within a declining power. The U.S. is losing power compared to the rest of the world, and within the U.S., the Trump voters are losing their status. Even though they are experiencing better conditions, the narrative self which is dominant in most people tells a story of decline, which says that the future will be worse than the present. And most people’s happiness depends on their expectations, not their conditions.” (emphasis mine)

With the rise of automation follows the predictable rise of a leisure society, with more free time for non work activities.

“Philosophy, once an archaic system, becomes central once we take care of widespread death and misery.”

But, a lack of striving for survival can quickly tip over into dystopian uses for technology that replace thinking; Harari cites theoretical algorithms that tell us what to eat and who to marry.

“The very idea of an individual that exists, which has been so precious to us, is in danger.”

I refute the idea that the true self is so fragile.  Therefore, Harari’s claim that religion (which gives the true self purpose) is not supported by reality fails to understand that the point of relational spirituality is faith whose evidence exists outside the physical realm.

The technology services we create can only do as much for us as we agree to.  In other words, the only humans who stand to lose their humanity must do so voluntarily–and thus are unworthy of the title of human anyway.  One could argue this happens now when people let addictions squander true free will.

I do not share the author’s dim view of the human spirit.  Man exists to search for God, and faith precedes the fulfillment of miracles and guidance–not the other way around. Technology only exacerbates and accelerates any (mis)placements of seeking–be it for video games, sex, food, or drugs.  The only pursuit that cannot be automated is the only safe one–God himself.

Next Stop for Disruptive Innovation: Banking

60 Minutes just aired a piece on the M Pesa mobile payment service in Kenya, Africa.  Safaricom administers the money transferring service that allows users to pay for goods and services, without cash, by texting.  While the service exists in other places in the developing world, Kenya is the success story.

The reach and the business model are breathtaking and inspiring.  Kiosks that exchange money for an M Pesa balance are ubiquitous, often appearing in or next to other high-traffic businesses.  19 million people, or 90% of the adults, use it, although more transactions still take place in cash.

The service was developed in England, but the thinking it has inspired in Kenya has given rise to the nickname, the “Silicon Savannah.”

The service uses PIN protection and can cover bills and taxes, salary deposits, and loans, with less interest because of the significantly reduced overhead.

The real story is what this user-friendly microfinancing has done to increase the standard of living for the poor, especially in rural areas. It means access to personal services and self business development that were before, out of reach.

So, what does this mean for us in the US?  Disruptive technologies like Uber face barriers from the existing taxi service, and the banking lobby is obviously opposed to M Pesa.  So it seems that the absence of a strong, existing supplier of a service is a boon, but it is harder to come by such holes of unmet need in the developed world.  But if and when you do, the spoils will be yours for the taking: MPesa generates $250,000,000 a year in service transactions in Kenya alone, proving the old saw that it is easier to sell a million items for a dollar, than one item for a million dollars.

Your Next Fitness Tracker Could Be Your Car

Forbes has just written a piece on possibilities for health metric integration in cars.  Smart cars that already integrate with smart applications could take biometrics.

For little to no additional cost, our cars, amongst our biggest assets and our constant companion, will soon provide this useful feedback that can make us feel better about time spent behind the wheel–even though we are being sedentary, we are learning about our bodies’ needs: heart rate, blood pressure, weight, etc.  Healthy driving!